After two straight disappointing losses, the Chicago Blackhawks re hoping to right the ship when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at the United Center.
The Blackhawks will wrap up a seven-game homestand with the contest, and they’ll be looking to improve on their 2-2-2 record thus far. Their most recent losses, to the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights, have been tightly-played affairs, but the Blackhawks weren’t able to prevail in either contest as their early season struggle for points continues.
The Blackhawks have already taken on the Flyers this season, losing a 4-3 decision in Prague for the season-opener. Thursday’s game will be the final regular season matchup between the two sides.
There are a handful of changes to the Blackhawks’ lineup on Thursday night, with Connor Murphy now on the long-term injured reserve list with a groin injury. Slater Koekkoek will draw into the lineup to replace him, and will likely skate with Erik Gustafsson on the team’s third defensive pairing.
Duncan Keith and Calvin de Haan will serve as the top pairing, with Olli Maatta and Brent Seabrook holding down the second pair spot.
Robin Lehner, who had a strong outing on Tuesday against the Golden Knights, will become the first Blackhawks netminder to get consecutive starts this season after alternating with Corey Crawford in the first six contests of the year.
In three games this season, Lehner has a 1-0-2 record with a .943 save percentage and a 1.93 goals against average.
For the Blackhawks, the big question will be generating offense, especially with their top two scoring lines. Rookie Kirby Dach did score his first career goal on Tuesday, but the rest of the top-six have struggled at times this season, with Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome both struggling to put pucks in the net in the early going.
Toews has one goal and one assist so far this season, but in spite of his struggles he will remain with Alex DeBrincat and Andrew Shaw for the start of Thursday’s game as Jeremy Colliton looks to establish some chemistry among his top forwards.
Puck drop between the Blackhawks and Flyers is set for 7:30 p.m., and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.